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In the discussion of copper, it should be noted that copper has long been added to marine bottom paints as an anti-fouling agent. Now however there is concern about deleterious environmental effects from its leaching out into the waters.
Barbara Hyde, MBA, CAE
American Society for Microbiology
First of all, thank you so much for providing myself and other microbiologists with this excellent podcast. Your very first episode was extremely fascinating to me, and I will be avidly waiting for all of the future episodes. I hope you and your friends can maintain this caliber for your podcast.
I am an analyst in the microbiology laboratory at a modest-sized pharmaceutical manufacturing company. For those of you that are familiar with pharmaceutical microbiology at a sterile manufacturing site, you would understand why the discussion of the laboratory studies on copper as an actual self-sanitizing material would be interesting. For the most part you talked about possible applications in hospitals, but I would love to hear Michael Schmidt's (and others') opinion on possible manufacturing design changes if the FDA were to ever support them. Currently, Laminar Flow Hoods, Isolators, and most equipment in a sterile facility seems to be made out of 316 stainless steel. You already mentioned that stainless steel can easily harbor bacteria on its surface, but would using copper as an alternative really be that much more effective? Stainless steel can be polished smooth enough to ensure no bacteria hide in cracks or irregularities in the surface when sanitizing agents
are used. Speaking of sanitizing agents, could you even hope to sanitize a copper material with a strong oxidizer like bleach or hydrogen peroxide? Even an autoclave would be brutal on copper utensils such as forceps or hemostats. You would almost be making disposable metal materials. I would love to see what the minimum concentration of copper you would need in an alloy in order to keep a 10^3 or possibly even 10^6 reduction in microorganisms! Also, I'd be very interested in seeing how a spore-forming organism reacts to contact with copper. Is the spore-formation process quick enough to save a Bacillus species organism from certain death? These are the kinds of questions that popped into my mind immediately, and I'd love to hear your take(s) on them.
On an unrelated note:
I'm a 25 year old analyst at this company with slightly over 4 years of industry experience. I would be ecstatic if you could take some time in an episode to describe the differences between industry and academic microbiology, focusing on some of the progression (or hierarchy) in those different fields. In my undergrad my classes were entirely pre-Med focused, and it was only by chance that I ended up in the industry. Now knowing what I do about pharmaceutical manufacturing, I wish that I had known more so I could have prepared a more efficient method of getting further in this field. An MBA would make becoming a manager/supervisor so much easier, and a PhD would make a Senior Scientist level more tangible to me. As it stands now I have no idea how to get further ahead, but a 5 year break from college keeps me reluctant to go back to school and start all over again.
Thank you once again for all you do, and best of luck in your research and with this podcast!
Hi, I'm a new student of microbiolgy at UBC, working in the Redfield lab. I found your podcast very informative and am looking forward to future episodes. If you are looking for interesting people for I'd like to suggest my supervisor Rosie. Among other things, she has a lot of interesting things to say about the recent arsenic bacteria issue.
Please say hello to Prof. Despommier for me, I've never met him but a few years back we talked about an unfruitful venture to get vertical farming going in Vancouver.
[Rosie Redfield blogs at http://rrresearch.blogspot.com/]